New app brings book organization to Kindle Fire
by Digital Media Revolutions
price: $2.99 at time of writing
One of the most common concerns expressed in the Amazon Kindle community about the Kindle Fire is that there isn’t a good way to organize the books on the device, like the Collections we have on some of the RSKs (Reflective Screen Kindles…anything but a Kindle Fire at this point).
That’s been what I call a “Shrugger”. That’s something I recommend managers look for in their businesses. A “Shrugger” is something that people think should be different, but they don’t see a clear path to the change…they just shrug their shoulders when someone new points it out. Identifying those can be important in fixing problems, yes, but also in changing the way people feel about their organization.
“Why doesn’t the Kindle Fire have Collections?”
Does the Fire need Collections or folders or some way to group together similar books?
Ask the people who have flipped through a hundred titles on their Carousels.
After all, Amazon estimates that the Fire can hold 6,000 books! That’s in the same part of the memory that holds video, music, magazines, personal documents, and so on (not apps), so if you have any of that, you can’t hold the full 6,000.
Still, that’s a lot of books, and I can understand why people just don’t want them all piled together. In my paperbook library at home, I meticulously organize them (alphabetizing the books, for example).
When I first saw the Book Collections app for the Kindle Fire in the Amazon Appstore, it intrigued me a bit. However, I did see quite a few bad reviews, and I don’t often pay as high as $2.99 for an app. I didn’t feel an urgent need personally: as I’ve mentioned before, I usually only keep about ten Kindle store books on any of my devices at a time.
However, a reader in a personal e-mail asked me about the app, and said that they were waiting for my review.
That was the nudge I needed, and I went ahead and got it.
First, the performance issues that had prompted the bad reviews initially appear to have been resolved. Simply stated, it works.
Second, it does what you want it to do. You can create your own “collections” on your Kindle Fire, name them whatever you want, and move your books into them. You can then access the books from those collections (or “Book Folders”, as the app calls them).
I’ll wait for a minute while a bunch of you click the link in the post with just that much information.
Now, let’s get into a bit more of the detail.
Installing it was easy. The app itself .93MB of memory…that’s really not big. Angry Birds, for example, is 19.71MB…more than twenty times as large.
When you open the app, it scans for documents on your Kindle Fire. For me, it found a lot of things that weren’t Kindle store books. Some of them I might never want in there, but it was actually really nice to have my Kindle store books, my personal documents, and even Microsoft Office documents and pdfs I’d downloaded as attachments to e-mails in the same place. It included magazines and samples, but no audio, video, or apps.
Once the items are imported (it certainly didn’t take a minute), you have a section for “Book Folders” at the top, and “Unsorted Books” at the bottom. I’m not sure “unsorted” is the right word to use here…maybe “uncategorized” would be clearer.
There are three pre-built folders:
- Currently Reading
- To Read Next
When you “long press” (hold your finger or stylus on it for about a second), you get the following choices:
- Open (so you can read it)
- Move to (so you can put it in a Book Folder)
- Edit Book Data and Location (more on that a bit later)
- Remove (this removes it from the app…not the Kindle)
Choosing “Move to” brings up a list of the Book Folders in the app…just tap one to move the book there.
You can’t long press a Book Folder…you can only open it.
Once a Book Folder is open, you can use the Menu button (horizontal lines in a box), you can either remove the folder or tap a button that says, “Edit Book Data and Location”. That’s not what that button does…it lets you rename the Book Folder.
When you are on the first page, hitting Menu lets you rescan or create a new folder.
All of that works. You can create folders and put books in them.
Next, some negatives:
A book can not be in more than one folder.
There are no sub-folders (that’s like the Collections on the RSKs).
A big one for me is that you can’t sort the “Unsorted Books” (hey, I guess that is accurate) , or search them. I just had to swipe through the list to see them.
When you read a book from within the app, your position in the book is not communicated to your Kindle Fire. In other words, lets say you open a book within the app and read 100 locations. If you later opened the same book not in the app, it wouldn’t know you had read those 100 locations.
The way they address that is with that “Edit Book Data and Location”. Choosing that lets you enter a location number, enter a percentage, change the title, and enter or change an author name).
Interestingly, the location and percentage don’t check each. You can say you are 50% through the book when you are only ten percent. What you say here also doesn’t affect opening the book outside of the app, I believe.
There is no Help within the app. There is a Facebook icon, but it didn’t seem to do anything for me…nor did an icon for what I assume is the Kindle Fire Department.
I do really want to commend the creators. I e-mailed them and got a very quick response answering my questions. That’s important to me…it shows that they care about their customers. I know that some people in that situation think I get special treatment because I’m a blogger, but believe me, people ignore bloggers.
We’ve had some correspondence on some interesting potential I see for the app, and they did tell me about some improvements under development.
Overall, I’d say that a lot of people will find this valuable. It’s a good idea, although I think that it could be refined. I would guess this is not a group that has produced a number of apps in the past, or has invested specifically in usability (many developers don’t). That said, they’ve done what Amazon hasn’t. My guess is that they will fairly rapidly enhance it, partially as they realize what end users want.
Bottom line: if you want to organize your books (and your personal documents) on your Kindle Fire, I recommend Book Collections.
Special thanks to my reader for asking me to review this! I really appreciate it when people take the time to tell me about things they think I and/or my readers would want to know.
If you’d like to comment on this post or on the app, feel free.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.